Agility in Team Sports: Testing, Training and Factors Affecting Performance

Darren J. Paul, Tim J. Gabbett, George P. Nassis

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

177 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Agility is an important characteristic of team sports athletes. There is a growing interest in the factors that influence agility performance as well as appropriate testing protocols and training strategies to assess and improve this quality. Objective: The objective of this systematic review was to (1) evaluate the reliability and validity of agility tests in team sports, (2) detail factors that may influence agility performance, and (3) identify the effects of different interventions on agility performance. Methods: The review was undertaken in accordance with the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses guidelines. We conducted a search of PubMed, Google Scholar, Science Direct, and SPORTDiscus databases. We assessed the methodological quality of intervention studies using a customized checklist of assessment criteria. Results: Intraclass correlation coefficient values were 0.80–0.91, 0.10–0.81, and 0.81–0.99 for test time using light, video, and human stimuli. A low-level reliability was reported for youth athletes using the video stimulus (0.10–0.30). Higher-level participants were shown to be, on average, 7.5 % faster than their lower level counterparts. Reaction time and accuracy, foot placement, and in-line lunge movement have been shown to be related to agility performance. The contribution of strength remains unclear. Efficacy of interventions on agility performance ranged from 1 % (vibration training) to 7.5 % (small-sided games training). Conclusions: Agility tests generally offer good reliability, although this may be compromised in younger participants responding to various scenarios. A human and/or video stimulus seems the most appropriate method to discriminate between standard of playing ability. Decision-making and perceptual factors are often propositioned as discriminant factors; however, the underlying mechanisms are relatively unknown. Research has focused predominantly on the physical element of agility. Small-sided games and video training may offer effective methods of improving agility, although practical issues may hinder the latter.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)421-442
Number of pages22
JournalSports Medicine
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 1 2016
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


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